Looks like someone wasn’t invited to the Lortel Awards.

Lortel Awards Off BroadwayAwards season is upon us!  And Off Broadway’s honors, The Lucille Lortel Awards, fashionably early as always, announced their nominations last week.

But someone . . . or something . . . got snubbed.

Sort of.

Of all the shows nominated for one of the big prizes (Play/Musical)?  Only one . . . uno . . . was a commercial, for-profit, production.

The rest of the nominees were all produced by non-profit productions.

Don’t believe me?  Click here to see the list.

(The one commercial production that did snag a nom was the British Import C*CK, which, ironically, started at a NP in the UK.)

Overall, a total of four commercial productions received noms in one category or another.

What does this mean?  Were for-profit productions snubbed?

Sort of.

Certainly there were other for-profit Off Broadway productions out there, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that the number of them (especially plays) is now so inconsequential that they can’t even get be a part of the awards conversation.

In fact, of the 102 Lortel eligible shows, only 15 were commercial productions.  15!  (Thanks to the Off Broadway League for this sobering yet accurate statistics.)

It’s not the Lortels fault.

But it’s all of our problem.

Off Broadway has become a land of non-profit productions.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Unless you’re a producer looking to produce a show Off Broadway.  Or a playwright that can’t get their play read by a NP reader.  Or an actor looking for a job that could last six months or more.

Commercial Off Broadway Producers need incentives to produce there . . . from the government, from the theater owners, from the unions, from the ad agencies, and more.

Without help, next year’s Lortels will be an exclusive NP party without a for-profit production in sight.


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  • Jake says:

    Totally agree that there need to be incentives for commercial producers to produce Off-Broadway. Otherwise, it will remain what it currently is: a haven for limited runs at NP theatres, most of which hope their productions will transfer to Broadway. However, enhancements from commercial producers, which allow many shows to be mounted at NP theatres, should be factored in, and some are much more significant than others. For example, The Other Josh Cohen may have technically been NP, but I’m pretty sure it was greatly enhanced.

  • LA Producer says:

    And just rub salt into the wound: looks like the NP show “Hit List” on “Smash” is going to rob the spotlight from the ON-B’way “Bombshell.” Know it’s fictional, but still.

  • janis says:

    An increase in the number of off-Broadway non-profits could mean a decline of faith in the profit potential of live theater. It might also mean that thespians are coming to understand that artistic excellence has a greater risk/reward potential than monetary profit. Profitability often seems to be the only measure of success, but there are greater rewards and applause is one of the best.

    The lack of for profit nominations may be an indication that the pursuit of profit interferes with the quality of the art. Profit making is an art in itself, but when it distracts from the artistic product it attempts to produce, it erodes both.

    The value of everything seems to be determined by profitability. In theater, the most often heard comment seems to be “Did a production recoup?” Only if a show makes a profit is it considered a success. Who can oppose profits going to those willing to take a risk. But if Broadway, Off Broadway and other theaters focus on the art of theater, profits will follow.

  • Mark Nassar says:

    Although the quality or I should say, the competence of NP theater is very high, I don’t find it exciting. It’s become a lot like PBS. It’s a good meal, but seldom am I blown away or utterly disappointed for that matter. It’s like a purgatory where only good hardworking theater citizens who have devoted themselves to the system and have good conservatory pedigree are able to rise. There are no rebels. There is no rock n’ roll. The plays may be unique one from the other, but they all seem to be from the same point of view – plays by drama majors for drama majors and the upper middle class subscribers. On the producing side of things, the commercial producer doesn’t stand a chance. Ask any commercial producer who’s searched for a venue – there’s the NP rental rate and then there’s the commercial rate, which is ridiculously higher. How is one going to compete against a NP that counts American Airlines as a sponsor?

  • Lewis says:

    But the Lortels are odd. Arguably one of the top OB shows last season was Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. It’s now on Broadway – and a success again, And it has one Lortel nomination – for costume design. A nomination that makes little sense to me. I guess they figure if its going to win Tonys, we’ll just ignore the show.

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